Research: Cassetteboy – Cameron’s Conference Rap
by Beauchamp Art
Although not created to be viewer in an Art context, Cassetteboy’s appropriation of publicly available video material of Prime Minister David Cameron speaking, cut to fit the rhythm of an Eminem song, in the Cameron’s Conference Rap produces anti-Conservative, anti-Establishment parody lyrics that could effectively be seen as a piece of protest art (which may be considered ‘Outsider Work’), comparable to the collages of someone like Hannah Höch. Using the PM’s words against him, to reveal a false narrative that satirises the position of the Tory party on a range of issues. For example, cutting together a number of speech so that the resulting sentence can be heard as ‘We have the bravery to bring back slavery’; an extreme caricature of Conservative rhetoric that is also parodied in an episode of Rik Mayall’s television series New Statesman, Labour of Love.
Though as this is the government that has pushed for unpaid internships, unpaid labor for those on benefits, and who have refused to increase the minimum wage to a working level, then such a satire may be seen as fairly telling of their underlying principals (that the proles should perpetually be working, given just enough to get by, within minimum political influence). Indeed, parody only work when it is grounded in some semblance of truth.
Nevertheless, as the video was produced primarily for entertainment purposes, then it may not be considered a totally series piece of political satire or scrutiny, but it must not be dismissed purely due to its informal nature. To someone from outside of the Arts (i.e., most people, particularly of working class background whom are likely to engage with this sort of visual material on a regular basis), the difference between YouTube mash-ups and fine art video montages are superficial.
As Grayson Perry, an effective and accepted by the mainstream artist and art-satirist, highlighted, art can frequently be seen as a boring version of something that already exists; that an art film is just a film which prides itself on being boring, rather than, in the case of entertainment films, it is to be avoided. Perry has managed to fuse a technically accomplished craftsmanship, fine art conceptualism, and humour within his work, such as in his Chris Huhne Vase, which depicts the figure’s fall from grace though a political scandal, featuring images of Huhne, the registration plate at the heart of the case and repeating child-like phalli; art’s last taboo (according to Perry).
Similarly Mayall’s political satire in New Statesman uses a grotesque to reveal negative and potentially extreme attitudes. Though the grotesque is used differently to another television program from the same era, Spitting Image which used caricatured puppets of political and celebrity figures, such as they were used to accompany Genesis’ Land of Confusion in a music video, using satire and music; entertainment platforms, as the basis for political critique.
The comedy and entertainment environment provides a safe platform for outlining political discourse and addressing underlying public concerns, in a way that high or fine Art may be unable to do so, due to its association (in Britain) with the wealthy, the Middle Class, and the Establishment. As Charles de Gaulle observed, “Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”
The Art world may be perceived as outside of the range of interest or understanding of of the Working Class, despite this been the most important group from which to hear the voices of protest, as they are the groups whom are most frequently first targeted by political action, legislation change, and criminalization. However, it could also be seen that the security of entertainment as a means of critique could just be a means of creating the illusion of free discourse, in line with Noam Chomsky’s illumination; “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
Cassetteboy. Cameron’s Conference Rap <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YBumQHPAeU>
Genesis. Land of Confusion <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlBIa8z_Mts>
Mayall, Rik. New Statesman: Ser. 3, Ep.1 Labour of Love <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2slwy1YBXMU>
Perry, Grayson. Chris Huhne Vase <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/21/grayson-perry-chris-huhne-default-man-vase-national-portrait-gallery>